Not only are the Pittsburgh Pirates selling playoff tickets on the verge of their first postseason appearance in 21 years, but they're also calling in reinforcements.
Adam Rubin of ESPN dished the scoop Tuesday afternoon, reporting that slugger Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck are headed from the New York Mets to the Pirates. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says infielder Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later — everyone's favorite — go to the Mets.
Buck and Byrd will be free agents after the season.
Byrd gives the Pirates a much-needed bat in the outfield, where they were hurting for power in right and hurting in general in left after losing Starling Marte to a hand injury. In the midst of a career season as he approaches his 36th birthday this week, Byrd is batting .285/.330/.518 with 21 homers, 26 doubles and five triples in 464 plate appearances. He's played for six teams since breaking in with the Phillies in 2002.
He got suspended for 50 games in 2012 for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, though Byrd — who has trained closely with reformed BALCO founder Victor Conte — says he took a legal medication that became tainted with a banned substance. Regardless, he owned his mistake and did his time. A 2010 All-Star with the Cubs, Byrd has no playoff experience, if you want to pick nits.
Also an All-Star in 2010, Buck gives the Bucs a respected backup catcher who can play when Russell Martin doesn't. He's got 15 home runs (most of which came in April) and is batting .215/.285/.367 overall. He is known for his leadership skills, as his hugging of Matt Harvey on Monday, following his bad news, showed the world. Playing the bulk of his career with the Royals, he doesn't have playoff experience, either. But he's about to, probably.